John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Ordinances Category

Newtown Borough Council Proposes Addition of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Use to Zoning Ordinance

UPDATE (15 August 2018): At last night's Newtown Borough Council meeting, the proposed ordinance was passed without any changes. It was noted at the meeting that this ordinance would NOT apply to Restore Integrative Wellness Center and Chroniceuticals, LLC, which has already applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary on South Street under zoning rules for a retail pharmacy (see story here).

Newtown Borough recently published a notice of a public hearing on August 14, 2018, the purpose of which is the “receive comment and public testimony regarding the proposed amendments to the Newtown Borough Zoning Ordinance adding the Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor, Medical Marijuana Dispensary uses.”

Some provisions of the draft amendment regarding Medical Marijuana Dispensaries include:

  • A Medical Marijuana Dispensary shall not be operated or maintained on a parcel within 1,000 feet, measured by a straight line in all directions, without regard to intervening structures or objects, from the nearest point on the property line of a parcel containing a public, private or parochial school, daycare center. Nor shall a Medical Marijuana Dispensary be located closer than 1,000 feet from another Medical Marijuana Dispensary or from a Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor.

  • A Medical Marijuana Facility shall be limited to hours of operation from8:00 A.M. until 8:00 P.M., seven days a week, by appointment only.

  • There shall be no emission of dust, fumes, vapors or odors which can be seen, smelled, or otherwise perceived from beyond the lot line for the property where the Medical Marijuana Dispensary is operating.

  • A Medical Marijuana Dispensary shall provide proof of a contract with a private security company, and shall be staffed with/monitored by security personnel twenty-four (24) hours a day and seven (7) days a week.

A similar amendment is under discussion for the Newtown Township, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield JMZO.

Newtown Township Planning Commission Chairman, Allen Fidler commented at a June 18, 2018, Work Session of the Newtown Board of Superviors that a dispensary is not something everyone sees as a bad thing [listen to this Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "Pot vs Pills"]. 

Having an ordinance gives the Township control of addressing where dispensaries would be located. Along with a 1,000 ft. separation from schools, the Township may want to consider a separation distance from a Township‐owned park. Township Solicitor, David Sandler replied that it might not be able to do that because it isn’t in State law. See video below:

Posted on 30 Jul 2018, 13:24 - Category: Ordinances

Yardley Borough Passes Local Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, But...

At the February 6, 2018, Yardley Borough Council meeting, members unanimously (7-0) agreed to advertise a new Anti-Discrimination Ordinance. A final vote to adopt the ordinance will me made sometime in early March, 2018 (see UPDATE below), at which time residents and businesses can submit comments prior to the vote. New Councilman David Bria introduced the ordinance.

The primary purpose of the ordinance is “to foster the employment of all individuals in accordance with their fullest capacities regardless of actual or perceived race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, marital status, age, veteran status, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to safeguard their right to obtain and hold employment without such discrimination, to assure equal opportunities to all individuals and to safeguard their rights to public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property.”

“The idea out there is that if the discrimination is related at all to the way someone identifies their sexual identity or gender identity, they would be protected,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how they identify but if it’s related to how ... we want to cast a broad net so there aren’t loopholes with this label or that label.”

Unlawful Acts under the ordinance includes:

  • Discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations or access to educational institutions is prohibited under this subpart.
  • Retaliation against any individual because such individual has opposed any practice forbidden by this [ordinance], or because such individual has made a charge, testified or assisted in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under this [ordinance].

It is not unlawful, however, for a religious corporation or association, “not supported in whole or in part by governmental appropriations, to refuse to hire or employ an individual on the basis of religion.”

Bria noted that there are no state or federal laws that already protect LGBTQ – “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer” - citizens. Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act currently prohibits discrimination in housing and employment, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories. People who self-identify in these categories are not protected under federal laws like the Civil Rights Act either.

The proposed ordinance also prohibits “conversion therapy” of minors. Such therapy seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression, and includes efforts to change behaviors and eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. The worst cases, according to Bria, are where young people are forced to stay in inpatient facilities and undergo shock therapy.

The proposed ordinance establishes a Human Relations Commission, which is charged with handling complaints and convening a “fact-finding” non-public conference concerning the dispute. If there is no resolution to the conflict, the Commission will convene a public hearing and may take additional action and remedies permitted under the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act.

Dave Bria Talks About Anti-discrimination Ordinances

In this podcast interview Bria discusses some of the reasons why he feels it is important for local Bucks County municipalities like Yardley Borough to enact anti discrimination laws.

UPDATE (July 11, 2018): On March 6, 2018, Yardley Borough became  the fifth Bucks County municipality to adopt an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (see here). That ordinance, however, may become null and void if PA House Bill 861 is passed. That bill says a municipality “may not in any manner regulate ... or enforce any mandate regarding employer policies or practices” other than its own (see article below).

Posted on 07 Feb 2018, 14:38 - Category: Ordinances

Dave Bria Talks About Anti-discrimination Ordinances

Dave Bria - newly elected Yardley Borough Council member - intends to introduce an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the LGBTQ community in Yardley from employment and housing discrimination. In this iterview he discusses some of details of his proposed ordinance and the reasons why he feels it is important for local municipalities to enact such laws.

 

Posted on 28 Dec 2017, 11:56 - Category: Ordinances

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